Thorner and Ingold: The Zimmerman Jury Got It Right!

August 7, 2013

ThornerBy Nancy Thorner  and Ed Ingold


Even when the pent up fury dies down within those believing Zimmerman was guilty of cold-blooded murder and who are even now seeking vengeance, the Zimmerman/Martin acquittal will remain very much alive for those who were denied their pound of flesh.

For the likes of Rev. Al Sharpton it will never be over, for he revels in stirring up racial discrimination, making sure it exists by injecting race into a situation that was never about race. Like the Wild West days, Al Sharpton and his ilk are all about dispensing social justice which is the polar opposite of following the law.

Despite the unanimous not quilty verdict of the jury, many who agreed were surprised when the verdict was read.  After all, the makeup of the jury was mostly-white, and all women to boot, who were well aware of the civil unrest that might occur should Zimmerman were not convicted and incarcerated.  Even Obama’s DOJ got involved in basically fanning the flames of civil unrest by busing protestors in with police escorts. Division and unrest suit the President’s agenda more than justice.

A recent survey indicates that 48% of the respondents think Zimmerman’s acquittal was right, but 32% think it was wrong and Zimmerman was guilty of murder.

The poll largely splits along racial lines. More significantly, the poll reflects ignorance of the law, the evidence, and the testimony presented at the trial.

Few people took the time to view the actual trial, but instead depended on inaccurate reports by newsmen and what can best be described as TV “screaming heads” like Nancy Grace and her empaneled guests. Of the news programs, only CNN’s Anderson Cooper maintained a high degree of objectivity.

Then there were pundits, including lawyers, who had obviously never read the Florida statutes (716-12 and 716-13), superficially known as “Stand Your Ground.” Reports were often based on those by others, rather than on first hand knowledge.  With each generation of reporting came added errors, often to reflect the reporter’s bias.

In Florida law, “Stand Your Ground” refers to an extension of the so-called “Castle Doctrine,” which says the victim need not retreat from an attacker who enters his home. In “Stand Your Ground,” the “Castle Doctrine” is extended to your occupied automobile and ultimately to your legal presence anywhere. It does not, as implied by many in the news, mean you can blast away at someone who disagrees with you. If threatened with force, you can use appropriate and proportional force in return.

There are 22 states with a similar law, including Illinois. While an individual is not obligated to retreat, response is limited to the force appropriate to the threat.  Deadly force if a reasonable defense is a person would fear imminent death or serious injury, or, as in Florida, forcible felony.

In general, an individual can’t claim self defense if he initiates an altercation. However, under 716-041, if the other party responds to an attack (other than a forcible felony) with deadly force, the initial aggressor is justified using deadly force in self defense if retreat or withdrawal, in complete safety, is not possible. If physical escape is not possible, it is sufficient that the person attempts to withdraw in good faith, and indicates clearly that he wishes to withdraw (e.g., by declaring he doesn’t want to fight, or by screaming “help”).

The prosecution’s case against Zimmerman was based on the premise that he “profiled” Martin as a suspicious person and pursued him with the intent of apprehending him and detaining him for authorities. The State implied that the mere act of following Martin constituted an assault. When Martin resisted, Zimmerman shot him in cold blood. This scenario was initially used by the Martin family attorneys and civil rights leader, Al Sharpton, to demand that Zimmerman be prosecuted.

During summation, the prosecution made no attempt to establish this scenario to the jury, nor was any attempt made to show how any testimony or evidence supported this claim. Instead, the summation was an emotional account of how an adult man, armed with a gun, pursued a child, Martin, who had done nothing wrong. The term “child” was used nineteen times to describe Martin, in an appeal to emotions rather than fact or the law. The jury was encouraged to fill in huge gaps in the evidence, based on their own emotions and experience.

By contrast, Mark O’Mara of the defense presented the jury with a timeline of events, including various 911 calls, and a call to Martin’s friend, Rachel Jeantel.  O’Mara then summed up the testimony of all 22 trial witnesses, and along with the physical evidence, all gave credence to Zimmerman’s version of the events. While Martin had done nothing wrong walking home with Skittles and Iced Tea, he crossed the line and became the aggressor when he knocked Zimmerman to the ground and beat his head on the sidewalk.

The defense established a timeline, based on Zimmerman’s statements to the police immediately after the event, repeated several times during the trial without serious differences, including a physical walk-through with detectives and a challenge interview at the police station.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013 at 11:30 AM | Permalink



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